11 Shopify SEO Tips For Beginners

11 Shopify Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Tips for Beginners

11 Shopify Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Tips for Beginners

Shopify is a very popular ecommerce platform which among other things, integrates very well with Facebook, Google Shopping and Google Analytics

As much as social media marketing is important in every digital strategy, critical attention should be paid to search engine optimisation in organic search rankings. This requires a highly optimised Shopify store with an appropriate SEO strategy. In this blog, we have outlined some of the basic steps to take in ensuring that you have a fully optimised Shopify store, for higher rankings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

At the last count, there were 2786 UK based Shopify stores (based on the .co.uk TLD). This cannot be said to be all UK based Shopify stores, as some Shopify stores from the UK can be using the .com TLD.  We can safely say that Shopify is among the most popular ecommerce platforms in the UK.

Higher placements in organic search results requires a dedicated approach to SEO of all pages and products in your Shopify store.

Standard Shopify allows for creating titles and meta descriptions for all your Shopify pages and products. It is imperative to set this up, as search engines use the information provided in these two fields as a preview to what users can expect to see once they visit your website

1. Ensure Your Shopify Store Utilises the Https Protocol

Google’s preference is to show results with HTTPS to visitors, as HTTPS depicts a level of trust and safety for the visitor. This can be done in Shopify by navigating to Online Store > Domains. Prior to activating your HTTPS protocol, ensure that you do not have any active images (logo and pictures) on your Shopify site, as any element which can be assessed from the non-secure HTTP protocol by Google will have a negative impact on your SEO efforts. In this regard, it is advisable to implement the secure HTTPS protocol right from the beginning, prior to any product imports and other additions to your Shopify store. You can read more about this on Shopify’s support pages.

2. Keywords

Keywords are what users of search engines use to find information, a product or service online, with the most popular search engine being Google.co.uk. Searches on Google often involve very few words and as a result, it is very important to think about the words you want to rank for.

As a Shopify store owner, it is critical that you reflect on the words your potential customers could be using in finding your products. Any identified keyword is relevant in drawing up categories and subcategories for your Shopify store. By aiming for the same keywords as users and potential customers are searching for on Google, your Shopify store has a greater chance of being ranked higher in search engine results.

Using Shopify as an online store, it is imperative to categorise products into categories, according to the type of products being offered. As an example, a jeweller would categorise their Shopify store into categories such as Rings, Earrings, Necklaces, Armbands etc. By so doing, Google can easily identify the main theme of the store for rankings in search engine results.

3. Identifying User Keywords

It can be difficult identifying the sort of keywords users are keying in on Google, when searching for your products or services offered by your Shopify store. Identifying user keywords should not be a difficult task. Google has a keyword tool by the name Google Keyword Planner. This tool shows the volume of searches for any combination of keywords or phrases on Google. Relevancy should be placed on popularity of the keyword or phrase in the referenced industry. As an example, within the heating and plumbing industry, relevancy should be given to keywords which contain the words “boiler”, “boiler repairs”, “boiler care”, “boiler damage” etc. This can help in strategically identifying the content of your Shopify store such that keywords in titles, categories and content are aimed towards these user keywords.

4. Site Speed

A big advantage of the Shopify platform is that of Shopify’s speed of loading content onto devices. Shopify is hosted on a Content Distribution Network (CDN). Normal websites are hosted on a single server. This means that a website hosted in the UK. will has a greater network latency for users in the US or Asia, when visiting your website. Latency is the length of time it takes to load a website once the URL has been entered on a device. Shopify solves this issue by keeping copies of your Shopify store on a CDN around the world. This means that even though your Shopify business is based in the UK, users in the US or Asia and other parts of the world will experience fast loading websites, as their request to visit your Shopify store will be directed to the nearest Shopify server closest to their location.

Site loading speed has become an important ranking factor on Google when running Google Ads, as more and more web traffic originates from mobile devices. Bandwidth on mobile devices is smaller than on laptops and desktops and therefore it is important that all pages on your Shopify store are highly optimised both in regards to the code and speed of loading. This results in a faster response time on all platforms and devices – Shopify fully lives up to this requirement without the need for any further investments in expensive CDN and server solutions.

5. To WWW or Not to WWW In Your URL

As already mentioned, good SEO starts with the URL of the Shopify store. This is because the aim of a good SEO strategy is to help Google identify your Shopify store from one and only one web address. Without this fundamental requirement being fulfilled, you risk having Google penalise your Shopify store for search engine manipulation with duplicate content.

Within the SEO community, it’s called mom knowledge that URLs with and without WWW are counted as two different URLs on Google. As an example, the URL www.indexiso.co.uk is completely different to indexsio.co.uk. Shopify approach of providing subdomains of their .myshopify.com domain does not help in this regard, as Shopify offers several other URL templates for your Shopify store, which all point to the same Shopify store. This is usually in the form of xyz.myshopify.com, www.xyz.com or xyz.com

As a result of this, you need to make a decision on the format of the URL (with or without WWW) you want to use as your primary URL and to maintain that throughout your Shopify store and Google integrations. Your choice of URL does not matter in an SEO perspective. What matters is deciding on a URL form and sticking with it.

To select your preferred URL format, navigate to Online Store > Domain > Click Primary Domain > Select the preferred domain > Select Redirect all traffic to this domain. All traffic to your Shopify store will henceforth be redirected to the chosen domain.

Indexsio Digital recommends selecting the WWW or non-WWW format of your domain and not any of the URLs ending in the .myshopify.com or other formats. This simplifies communication with Google in instructing Google which of the URL formats to place an emphasis on.

Once this is done, you need to connect your Shopify store to Google’s Search Console. If you already have a search console or Google account, you will proceed to login. If not, you need to create an account to access Google’s Search Console. Having a Google Search Console account puts you in a better position to see which keywords your Shopify account is being shown for, performance of your website in search rankings, how many product pages Google has indexed from your Shopify store and other indicators which can help you identify any shortcomings of your Shopify store.

In your Google Search Console account, you need to indicate your preferred URL so that Google knows which version of your Shopify store to index. To do this, navigate to Site Settings > Preferred Domain > Select the domain or format which you selected in your Shopify domain settings. Doing this will help Google better identify your Shopify store and index it correctly.

6. Image Optimisation – ALT Texts

Google and other search engines can read content on your Shopify store however, this is not valid for images. To resolve this, it is advisable to add ALT Texts to all images uploaded to your Shopify store. By specifying ALT Texts on all images, Google and other search engines can easily identify what the image is about and therefore boost your Shopify store’s rankings in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

7. Sitemaps and Robots.txt

One other advantage of having a Google Search Console account is that you can inform Google where to locate your Shopify store’s sitemap. This is an XML text file which contains links to all pages on your Shopify store. This is automatically updated by Shopify, everytime you create a new page or product page in your Shopify store. This is easiest and fastest route of alerting Google of new content on your Shopify store.

To specify the location of your XML sitemap, navigate to Browse > Sitemaps in Google Search Console. Your Shopify XML sitemap will adhere to the format https://<yourdomain>/sitemap.xml. As an example the sitemap for indexsio.co.uk will be https://indexsio.co.uk/sitemap.xml.

Another important file for your Google Search Console account is the Robots.txt file. This file helps Google and other search engine crawlers in identifying which pages on your Shopify store to crawl or not to crawl. As a general rule, Robots.txt is a must have, with the only exception being at the initial store development phase.

Developers and web techies will always place a no-crawl in robot.txt files at the initial stages of development, to prevent Google from indexing the site. If site indexation is proving to be difficult, it’s always a good idea to check your Shopify store’s robot.txt file to see if any page(s) have been blocked from being indexed. This is the most common cause of missing indexation on Google. The robots.txt file can also be used to block access to other auto generated pages on your Shopify store. Auto generated pages can result in Google identifying these pages are being duplicate content on your Shopify store.

To review the content of your robot.txt file, you can access the file from https://yourdomain/robots.txt. If you need to edit your robots.txt file, you need to login to your Shopify store via FTP access and edit the file in Notepad or a code editor. It is not advisable to use Microsoft Word as a code editor, as this includes hidden code within the edited text.

8. Canonical Tags

As Shopify creates a different page for all product variations, it’s imperative that you create a canonical URL for all pages which are product variants of the main product. Not doing so makes your Shopify store a target of duplicate content which is heavily penalised by Google.

Canonical tags helps Google identify which page to index as the main page and which page is the duplicate version of the main page. Shopify’s free themes usually set canonicals however, depending on your Shopify store theme, you will want to verify that this is indeed the case with your theme. You can verify this by looking at your theme’s theme.liquid file and confirm that somewhere in the header <head> and </head>, there is a line with the following code

<link rel”canonical” href=”{{ canonical_url }}” />

Should the above line not be found in your theme.liquid header, you will have to manually add this to your theme. This helps increase SEO value for Shopify stores with product variations and avoids duplicate content on Google.

9. On-Page SEO

For many Shopify store owners, this is the first time they will be working with SEO and digital marketing. This leads to a misunderstanding of what really needs to be done on their Shopify store to achieve higher organic rankings, including the titles and meta description for each product and other pages. It is advisable to do from day 1, as this helps kick start sales from organic rankings.

Your title and meta descriptions are suggestions to Google as to what Google should show in search results for each of your Shopify pages. Google is not obliged to show what you write however, a rule of thumb, what you write in your meta descriptions is often what appears in search results.

When writing titles and meta descriptions, it’s important to keep them short, within the character count for titles and meta descriptions measured in pixels (not text). This means that using several wide and large characters in your titles and meta descriptions can lead to missing words in your meta descriptions when shown on Google. There are tool available which helps in optimising titles and meta descriptions such as this snippet optimiser

10. Search Engine Optimisation Title & Meta Descriptions

Always ensure that the most important keywords for the page are included as part of the first two words in these two fields. From an SEO perspective, this is only important for the title tag to make it easier for Google to identify which keyword to rank the page for. It is also advisable to include the keyword or phrase in the meta description as well as in the page URL.Google highlights words that have been entered on the search engine and the more of those words that have been highlighted in search results, the easier it will be to attract potential customers to click on your page.

Remember to write unique and descriptive titles and meta descriptions for every page. Do not be tempted to reuse title tags and meta descriptions and remember that with meta descriptions, you want to use that as a sales platform with a clear call to action which leads visitors to your page. Examples of calls to action can be “Buy now and get 50% OFF” or other Unique Selling Points (USPs) which your business might have. USPs may also be used in your title tags.

The meta tag field is also available for each page and product page. This does not need to be completed as Google no longer indexes meta tags.

11. Link Building

An important (but sadly overseen) part of SEO is Link Building. Link building is the process of acquiring links from other web sites to your website in order to validate your website on Google. Link building also increases traffic to your web site, from other web sites linking back to yours. Link building involves acquiring hyperlinks from other websites where the actual link is “saved” within a piece of text which leads the user on to your Shopify store.

Internal Link Building

Internal link building are hyperlinks which directs site visitors from one page to another relevant page internally on your Shopify store. Internal link building also indicates to Google which categories or pages are the most important for search engines to crawl. Internal link building is an important tool in your Shopify store’s on-page activities however, overlinking internally is not advisable. Overlinking internally can lead to a spammy looking website or shop. You need to balance your internal linking activity so that it does not look spammy or confusing for Google’s crawlers.

External Link Building

External Link building involves other external website linking to your website in an article, blog or press release. Links from external sites helps validate your Shopify store and therefore, it is of utmost importance to ensure that linking domains are of the highest quality and relevancy compared to the products being offered on your Shopify store.

Bad links can contribute to a degradation of your SEO rankings on Google and in the worst case scenario, lead to a Google penalty.

Need Help With Your Shopify SEO?

Now you know more about Shopify SEO and the most important settings for your Shopify store. Besides the basic Shopify SEO knowledge outlined in this blog, there are other areas of the Shopify SEO framework which can be added to the above tips to help with your Shopify store’s organic rankings.

At Indexsio Digital, we help several Shopify store owners to achieve higher organic rankings. Contact us today via email or telephone for a no obligation chat on how we can help drive growth for your Shopify store through our bespoke Shopify SEO framework at a basic  and advanced level.

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Indexsio Digital is full service performance marketing digital agency. We offer professional SEO, Shopify, PPC and Web Development services to Small and Medium-sized (SMEs) businesses across the NorthWest of Englang. We help online stores increase their organic and paid search rankings across medium to highly competitive keywords. Request a free SEO or PPC audit today to identify opportunities within your paid search and SEO strategies.

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